Sunday, February 25, 2024

“Coyote” Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison for Transportation of Noncitizens and Refusal to Release Passengers After Demanding More Payment

SACRAMENTO — A human smuggler (also known as a “coyote”) was sentenced today to 12 months in prison for unlawful transportation of noncitizens without status in the United States, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

On Sept. 28, 2022, Mateo Gomez Gonzalez, 29, of Mexico, was arrested at a gas station near Dunnigan, California, and has been held in federal custody in Sacramento. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 24, 2022.

According to court documents, on Sept. 28, 2022, a concerned resident of Sacramento called law enforcement to report that his relative and a friend were being held over a payment dispute in a human smuggling operation. The driver of a vehicle involved in the transport of Mexican citizens to the United States was threatening to drop the relative and family friend at an unknown stash house rather than to the awaiting family members if additional payment was not made. Acting on the tip, law enforcement met the vehicle at a gas station, discovered four passengers in the vehicle who did not have lawful status in the United States, and arrested the driver, Gomez.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Denise Yasinow prosecuted the case.

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